I wanted to thank everyone for all the great posts on this thread and this site in general. I am currently having an old house rehabbed and restored and was about to select a firm for whole house audio, home theater and home automation. I was leaning towards selecting a Crestron based system. Though after seeing a friend's Sonos system implemented throughout his house, it gave me great pause. I can afford a full Crestron implementation but seeing Sonos made me question the price/value of Crestron and also the technology backbone. I started searching for other alternatives (Sonos on steroids that can handle audio and a mix of other home automation) and that is when I stumbled across this web site and also across Control4 and Netstreams.
If this was a couple of years in the future, this might be a lot easier to decide but I am faced with a decision given that I have open walls and need to proceed with the wiring now but ultimate implementation is over the next 6 months. I am not trying to do this myself. I firmly believe in the value added of a great professional. Given the current flux in the industry, I would love some guidance. I have one generic question and many specific questions on Control4.
The generic question is what would you do? Use one of the new technologies Control4 or Netstreams or stick with existing? If this question is not appropriate for this thread then please ignore but I would love help with the specific questions below on Control4.
The Control4 specific questions:
1) What products are now out? When are the others expected?
2) Since I have not been able to see the product, what is the build quality?
The build quality seems very good for most of the components and the control panels
3) From a straight audio viewpoint, what is the sound quality?
At a demo, the system sound quality was good and should handle most whole house audio needs. The ability to connect digitally to another amp for demanding situations should be able to drive the level of sound quality desired
4) Would you recommend, using Control4 for Home Automation but still doing a separate home theater? Is Control4 only 2 channel?
The system has the flexibility to handle HT either way and still keep integrated into the overall system
5) What data is supported? MP3 and WAV? at what compressions for MP3? Will Control4 add AAC and others?
MP3 and uncompressed data are both handled currently. Other compression types are being worked on
6) I like the functionality listed and the price point of the Media Center but is the Media Center the only server supported? Is NAS supported with a Media Center? Can you back up the Media Center? Will NAS or other media servers be supported in the future? Can you hook up several Media Centers one system? How does the interface handle this? Does it show you one combined list of songs etc?
The Media Center appears to be both a processor and server. Very important - additional storage needs can be addressed by NAS which is fully supported by the Media Center. Also, all music is accessible by one unified interface and with multiple streaming. This should allow very low cost overall storage with high level of functionality.
7) What is the underlying operating system of the processors? (Is it linux like Sonos?)
8) Are there more screen shots? (like the song selection etc so that one can get a much better idea of the quality of the interface)
Actual screens have an overall good design and feel. They are also able to be customized
9) Given the IP technology, why is their a multichannel amp and other items that are typical of centralized implementation?
The system can be configured in a head/home run fashion like most Celestron etc.. are configured or in a fully distributed ethernet method like Nestreams or a combination. This flexibility can help fit with existing wiring or situation.
10) Can the distributed amps be put in the wall?
No it did not appear possible but future speakers might have direct amps
11) Does Control4 have the ability to use internet radio?
12) Do you have a pc or mac or even browser interface similar to your control panels?
Coming out soon for both pc and mac.
13) How easy is it to add other functions later?
14) What is the proper way to wire for Control4? I like the wireless mesh network but do like the idea of putting in a strong wired backbone now since the walls are all open.
Depends on setup - see question 9
15) Many zones are great. I could see having 25 but is it easy to group and subgroup to be able to handle well. For example, 1st floor contains kitchen, sunroom, dining room, living room and music room. Second, what limits the number of zones in the system? For example, X piece of hardware is needed for every 8 zones.
Don't know yet - does anyone else?
16) I saw something about 10/100 for the network? Does Control4 work on a 1000 T network?
yes and yes. It is 10/100 and would work on a 1000
17) I assume that Control4 just plugs into the house ethernet network?
18) Are the wired devices, also part of the wirless network? (i.e. do the wired pieces add to the mesh network?) For example, if you have a long wired connection to the garage and then want some wireless in the apartment above the garage, would that work?)
The wired speaker points are not but the wired control panels do
19) Is it easy to add a special amp or preamp for special spots for higher fidelity?
20) Do people like the system?
Now that I have seen it live, I liked it a lot. I also liked the attitude of the folks at Control4. They have a great initial product but they are not sitting still but are working hard to further enhance. It seems that you could argue any one technical aspect but the overall package and price makes for a winning combination.